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Lyon look to Fekir and Memphis as Reims arrive

Publish on 11/01/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

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Nabil Fekir and Memphis Depay will shrug off their Coupe de la Ligue BKT disappointment to lead Olympique Lyonnais' Ligue 1 Conforama challenge when they return to league business against Stade de Reims on Friday, coach Bruno Genesio says.

 Olympique Lyonnais - Stade de Reims 

Fekir missed a penalty and Depay struggled to make his mark as Lyon slipped out of the Coupe de la Ligue BKT with a 2-1 quarter-final defeat at home to RC Strasbourg-Alsace on Tuesday.

It was an uncharacteristic mistake from the usually sure-footed FIFA World Cup winner, who has played a key role in helping keep his club in contention for a top-three finish.

Montpellier Hérault SC's defeat at FC Nantes in midweek ensured Lyon kept hold of third place — just two points behind second-placed LOSC Lille and with a game in hand — and Genesio is confident his captain will soon be back to his best.

"Nabil will be there on Friday, and very much there," the Lyon boss insisted, who has already seen the France international emerge from a dip in form. "We already had that kind of discussion before the game against Shakhtar. I'm not worried, I know he'll get back at it. It's not Nabil or Memphis [Depay], it's a team problem when we produce a performance like that of Tuesday.

"But we shouldn't just scrap everything. We hit the post three times, you can't boil everything down to the performances of just two players. There is no question of stigmatising this one or that one."

Genesio: 'Huge disappointment'

In truth, a larger slice of luck and some better finishing would have seen Lyon canter home and clinch a place in the last four. Instead, Genesio was left to pick over the bones of just a second defeat in 16 competitive outings that came in a game his team had been expected to win.

"It's a huge disappointment. We can't be starting matches with such a lack of rhythm. We lacked aggression and engagement, not to mention cutting edge," he admitted. "In this kind of match, it's often the side that comes with more drive and desire that wins through to the next round, and that's where we failed. If all we could do was hit the posts, then perhaps that's all we deserved."

Given Reims have the same number of Ligue 1 Conforama points this season as Strasbourg, Lyon will know not to expect an easy ride at the Groupama Stadium. David Guion's squad have lost just twice in their last 12 league games, and got 2019 off on a positive note with a 2-0 Coupe de France win against RC Lens.

Moussa Doumbia, Hyun-Jun Suk (pictured above) and Marvin Martin all miss the trip, but the Champagne outfit do welcome back Pablo Chavarria — Reims' matchwinner when they defeated Lyon 1-0 in Week 2 — as they seek to hand the seven-time French champions a second slap in the face inside a week.

"We know that at Lyon, the motto 'A great team never loses twice in a row' is engrained in them," the Reims boss explained. "It's important to start off positively. Lyon are very different to the team we met the first time this season. Lyon are dangerous. Along with PSG, they're the best that France has to offer."

Probable teams

Lyon: A.Lopes – Denayer, Marcelo, Marçal – Dubois, Ndombele, Aouar, F.Mendy – N.Fekir (cap.) – B.Traoré, Depay

Reims: E.Mendy – Foket, Engels, Abdelhamid, Konan – Romao (cap.), Chavalerin – Oudin, Dingomé, Cafaro – Ojo